Tuesday, April 01, 2008

rushing to finish our yacht in Carriacou

This has probably been the longest period that I have been off the net in years. The last time my laptop felt the power of the internet was last Tuesday morning. The reason for me not being able to get online and not being able to blog was that I have been off Antigua on a mission that had the one and only goal of launching our first yacht.
I left Antigua on British Airways bound for Grenada with the heaviest two bags that I have ever traveled with outside of going to a windsurfing competition. They were mostly filled with stainless steel plates and fittings for the yacht we have been trying to finish in Carriacou. David Mendes picked me up and looked after me for the night including buying me a good sushi dinner. The next morning was going to be an early one with a two hour ferry ride to start with. I finally got to the little boat building town of windward just before lunch and found master boat builder, Alwyn Enoe and his three sons busy working on the boat. If you remember I made a deal to take this boat over from the person who originally commissioned this boat only 5 weeks before. It looked like this then: I had paid Alwyn to rush the finishing of this boat in order for us to be ready for Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta which starts April 17th. As I sat there looking at the guys working on the boat I had doubts about the possibility of meeting the deadline. A huge fire was heating bits and pieces of lead inside a mold on the beach. We still had no shoe under the greenheart keel and there was plenty of work still to be done. Despite the 7 guys working on the boat I worried we needed more time. After lunch we went over things that needed to be done still, and Alwyn assured me that the boat would be launched on Sunday.
That night I stayed by “Juice”, one of the guys working on the boat and Alwyn’s nephew. His nice little house sat only 5 minutes walk from the boat and right across a little shop. It was a handy place to be staying and I slept well. Early the next morning I inspected the lead. It was going to be another long day of work as we had to remove the lead from the mold and set up another batch inside the mold. After quite a bit of heavy work we removed over a thousand pounds of lead from the mold and started loading it up again. The finished piece was marked and cut in two so that it could be fit under the keel. The mold had been borrowed from another boat builder in Petit Martinique which was only a few miles away and we still had to cut it a bit to make it fit our boat. For hours and hours I collected bits of lead and dropped them carefully into the mold. We made a huge fire under it and as the lead slowly melted and the level dropped I had to add more lead. Meanwhile the other guys painted and hurriedly worked on various jobs under the waterline. A template had to be made of the keel bolts so that holes could be made in the lead. The guys took some time making these holes and I think it could have been way quicker with proper tools. I had to off in search of a socket big enough for the nuts that would hold up the lead too. By the end of the day we were totally exhausted, but the boat was looking much more likely to be ready. One piece of lead was shaped, holed and positioned under the hull. The other set of lead was cleaned already and was cooling in the mold waiting to be pushed out the next day. www.sailing-antigua.com